A look at a youthful brand which has love for nature at its core
GAYA by Gayatri Khanna Sabharwal is fresh, fun and has a heart full of nature. Deriving its name from Gayatri, the CEO and creative director of the brand, and the Greek name, Gaia (the Goddess of the Earth), GAYA was found in mid-2020. Dresses, blouses and tops, kaftans, jumpsuits, skirts, pants, track-sets and lounge-sets as well as accessories like tote bags, earrings, scarves, headbands, visors and fashion face masks... there is a gamut available at GAYA. Manufactured in Mumbai, GAYA has showrooms in New York, Milan, Paris and London. Gayatri chatted with The Telegraph on the making of the brand.
How has the past year been for you? What have been the learnings as a fashion entrepreneur?
The past year, with the pandemic, has been a learning curve for everyone. Fashion is synonymous with change and now more than ever it holds true. The key is in being able to adapt and innovate to move ahead with the changing times, making the most of the available resources. Also I learnt that the consumers are more mindful now and it is so important to connect with their belief and morals and align our brand philosophy with theirs for them to be loyal to the brand.
Rewind to GAYA’s birth. How was it conceived?
GAYA is a division of Milaaya Embroideries, which I launched 21 years ago. Milaaya Embroideries manufactures embroidered and beaded garments for luxury and contemporary fashion and lifestyle brands across the world. With our experience of 21 years in the world of luxury fashion, our infrastructure, technical know-how and knowledge, launching GAYA to make the most of our resources seemed like the next logical step. This helped us support our 450 employees during the pandemic. We did a thorough market research and after identifying the gap in the market for glamorous loungewear and affordable yet luxurious RTW with a global appeal, we launched GAYA in August 2020.
The collections look fresh. Tell us how nature inspires you in your designs...
Nature has so much to offer! The flora, the fauna and the transformations that take place, the possibilities are limitless. During the pandemic, when we were conceptualising GAYA we noticed that when the humans were under the lockdown, we saw the air purifying, flowers blooming, animals and birds coming out of their hiding reminding us of the beauty of nature in living harmoniously and mindfully. We wanted to present this new and beautiful earth to everyone as a reminder that we must preserve it for the well-being of all its habitants.
The collection Paradise looks so travel-ready. Which locales do you have in mind for Paradise?
When designing Paradise, our aim was to present a collection that has something for everyone, versatile silhouettes that can transform effortlessly from day to evening looks, brunch to a fancy dinner, a house party to a holiday. We have co-ordinated sets which are comfortable and perfect for travel itself; we have flowy dresses for the beach holiday, we have party and evening dresses for a night out in the city!
The accessories look so colourful...
Accessories can instantly glam up the simplest of looks. Our accessories are bold, vibrant and beautifully handcrafted. We offer earrings, scarves, tote bags, headbands and our very popular visors again perfect for a holiday in the sun! We also offer personalisation options for these accessories.
What have been your takeaways from working with big design houses like Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Versace, Oscar De La Renta, Marchesa, Vera Wang, Saint Laurent?
Working with international brands has definitely been enlightening and inspiring and I continue to learn every day as we create beautiful embroideries for them. My biggest takeaways from working with some of the most coveted brands are that never to compromise on the quality of the product. Quality is what differentiates mediocre from extraordinary. Also what I realised is that even though the brands innovate in terms of the designs, they don’t necessarily follow trends, they set the trends! They always stick to their core aesthetics or design sensibilities, one fashion season after the other. This way one will always recognise a Dolce & Gabbana or identify a Balmain dress. I would love to have the same recognition for GAYA where one can spot the dress and relate it back to the brand.
Do you think you’d be a different designer had your brand not started in the pandemic? How has the pandemic shifted your focus?
The pandemic has shaped us all both personally and professionally in some way or the other. Having launched during the pandemic and given the market scenario as well as keeping in mind the perspective of the consumer, we focused on introducing products that would fill the gap in the landscape of the Indian fashion scene at that time. We launched with stylish beaded and embellished face masks and loungewear. When we launched ready-to-wear, we kept in mind that the designs are timeless and easy to wear. We want to offer quality pieces but at affordable prices. We want to be a thoughtful brand with a soul and use our platform and creativity to bring social and environmental awareness. We want to build a community of loyal customers whose morals and beliefs align with our brand philosophy. We don’t want to be just another label in your wardrobe. We also are using our resources mindfully and paying attention to our carbon footsteps, focusing on producing smaller quantities, using excess fabrics to make masks and accessories and so on.
What are your eternal favourites as a fashion lover?
I generally dress as per my mood and gravitate towards vibrant colours and fresh prints. Having said that, a go-to little black dress with a touch of bling, which is my signature style, and a pair of well-fitted jeans are wardrobe must-haves.
What are your plans for GAYA?
The plan is to make GAYA global, be available in the most coveted stores and e-commerce platforms all over the world. Also, I would like to eventually get into menswear and kidswear!